About Anemia

These blood conditions can cause severe fatigue

There are many types of anemia, and they can all cause fatigue that ranges from subtle to extreme. Some anemias occur because of irregularities in the structure of red blood cells. Others are caused by having too few blood cells, or nutrient deficiencies that prevent the normal production or function of hemoglobin.


Anemias are disorders of the red blood cells. Some forms of anemia, such as sickle cell disease or thalassemia, are inherited but most are not. All anemias impair the way red blood cells function in delivering oxygen to the body’s tissues.

What It Feels Like

People with anemia are often tired. If the anemia is severe, they might feel exhausted. Other symptoms which can occur include:

  • feeling lightheaded and/or weak
  • breathlessness
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • cognitive problems such as brain fog
  • feeling cold

Nutrient related anemias can produce a broad array of symptoms include hair loss and neuropathy.


Because there are many kinds of anemia, it is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. Most anemias are diagnosed based on a description of the symptoms and some simple blood tests.

Treatment Options

Nutrient-related anemias are common and are treated with supplements. Anemias caused by blood loss may resolve on their own; in severe cases they are treated by transfusions. Those caused by genetic conditions might be treated with a combination of transfusions, medications and nutrient supplements.


Anemias usually respond well to treatment. Some medications and nutrients (iron) can have side effects but most are well-tolerated. Periodic re-evaluation through blood work might be required.